Monday, May 14, 2007

Cingular 8525


http://business.cingular.com/businesscenter/8525/index.jsp

- About 5 days of testing and setting things up.
- So the wife's palm life"less" drive finally died. It wont turn on/charge no matter what. I even got a torx T5 screwdriver, opened it up, did all sorts of contortions of disconnecting the battery and NOTHING. It's completely dead.
- The wife is pretty much lost without her pda so a replacement was needed and quickly. I switched from palm to pocketpc a while back with my awesome HP ipaq 4150 which still works great (runs windows mobile 2003). It's been surprisingly stable and runs all the application I need. So our requirements were nothing related to palm or anything that has to do with that company ever again. The stand alone pda market is pretty much dead. Dell just closed up the axim line. HP still has a few models (but pricey). Then there is the Cingular 8525 3G that runs the full windows mobile 5.0 (touch screen) with a free upgrade to 6.0 later this summer. We've been with Cingular (errr umm I guess AT&T now) for many years. After going to look at it, it was surprisingly smaller than we expected. So with that the wife decided to give this do it all in one device a try.
- Full 3G support UMTS/HSDPA but can fall back to edge and all the way down to gprs.
- Pretty nice flip out keyboard. I wish there was a bit of space between the keys but other than that a very usable keyboard.
- No external antenna!
- Micro SD. I kind of wish they went with mini or just regular sized SD. Either way I dropped in a 2gb (max size for micro). It works formatted in fat or fat32.
- The first thing I did was flash the sucker to the latest version:
http://www.htcamerica.net/support/8525/software-downloads.html
(do this at your own risk)
It went fine. This is style WM5 (wm6 won't be out for at least a few more months). One of the nice things it added was Internet Sharing (more on this later). Battery life is suppose to be improved too.
- Make sure you have the latest active sync installed (v4.5).
- We live in a city with great HSDPA coverage so I always saw the little 3G icon. Voice calls sounded great. Even the speaker phone feature is nice and clear. There is almost no need for a blue tooth headset anymore. Kind of sucks that there isn't a standard headphone jack. Instead it goes off of the mini usb jack. A set of headphones are included. There are also adapters you can find that will convert the mini usb jack to a standard 3.5mm stereo audio jack (like this one though I have never ordered form this place).
- The device only trickle charges from usb so it's recommended to use the included AC adapter charger for your everyday charging.
- Battery life has been excellent so far. The battery easily lasted the day with some heavy data activity and some voice.
- Web surfing worked pretty well once things got going. It seems like that initial connection takes quite a long time. But after that initial hit things go pretty fast. I tried using http://www.opendns.com/ but it didn't make much difference. It was from a recommendation from here.
I'm using WAP@CINGULARGPRS.COM (default pw CINGULAR1) and it seems to work ok.
- I avoided xpress mail after reading a few negative posts. I just setup a few of her pop3 email accounts using the built in outlook. I ended up using gmails smtp server (with the ability to have a different reply email) so you can easily send email from anywhere. Another option might be using cingular's servers (mx.mycingular.net or cwmx.com) but I didn't bother trying. Gmail smtp server works just fine. Again, sometimes there is that initial pause when checking email.
- Camera is usable: 2 megapixel, movies shoot in 320X240 mp4 format. The built in flash has a very short range (just a few feet?). Can save directly to micro sd.
- I briefly tested mp3 and divx playback. I used TCPMP (best media player out there). ATI imageon decode video driver caused issues. Switching to just ATI Imageon worked fine. Videos played smoothly.
- Using resco File Explorer you can easily map network shares and copy files back and forth over wifi. This is very convenient.
- Another possibility is making skype calls:
http://www.skype.com/download/skype/mobile/
I haven't tried this but supposedly the cpu is fast enough.

Tethering to the laptop over the 3G HSDPA network using Internet Sharing.
Each setup took about 5 min to do. It was really easy! Tests were done against http://speedtest.net
1) over bluetooh PAN (personal area network) (using built in bluetooth on my laptop).
Start up Internet sharing on the pda. Select blue tooth pan. On the pda make sure bluetooth is on and visible to other devices (both checked from menu|bluetooth settings in Internet sharing app. Click connect on the pda which connects you to the data part of the 3G network.
On the PC View network connections and you should see bluetooth network connection pan listed. Double click and the pda should show up in the available devices list. Just click add and walk through the wizard for exchanging passkeys. After that you will have a 1Mbps pan running.
down/up (kbps)
436 / 336
441 / 331
449 / 290
434 / 350

Not bad. As you have probably noticed this is much better than the old days of tethering using bluetooth DUN over serial emulation with 115kbps cap. Also gone are any complicated dial and connect strings needed to make it happen.

2) over usb.
On the pda run Internet sharing but choose usb this time.
On the pc make sure activesync 4.5 is installed. Just plug in the usb cable. A few drivers will get installed. Check Network connections on the pc and you will see a new Local Area Connection with type: windowsmobile-based internet sharing device running at 10mbps.
1053 358
1047 357
WOW!!! Yeah HSDPA is FAST! WE are talking very close to base level DSL speeds (real world usually 1.2mbps down).

bluetooth pan is very convenient though you loose about half the speed. USB is very speedy! Either way I'm VERY impressed with HSDPA!

From what I understand they probably won't notice if you tether under the cheaper pda unlimited plan as long as you don't go crazy with the bandwidth usage. Use too much bandwidth and they will take notice and charge you so tethering is a risk. The laptop data unlimited tether is like $60 which is nuts. Cingular data plans really are a mess and very confusing. Read about the risks here.

Resources:
xda-developers (tons of info, forums)
Cingular forums
http://www.howardforums.com/
http://www.brighthand.com/default.asp?newsID=12845

Applications:
http://wiki.xda-developers.com/index.php?pagename=Must_have_tools
http://pocketpcmag.com/awards/category_WandF_2006.asp?catid=45
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Core_Pocket_Media_Player (tcpmp)
http://www.aspecto-software.com/rw/applications/wififofum/ (also installs .net 2.0 compact framework)
http://www.gowerpoint.com/ (best ebook reader!)
http://www.conduits.com/products/player/ (nice commercial media player)
http://www.omegaone.com/batterypack/pro/default.htm (nice commercial launcher and other useful utilities)
http://pachome1.pacific.net.sg/~welic/claunch.html (nice free launcher)
http://www.tomeraider.com
http://www.mobipocket.com
http://www.laridian.com/ce/catpocketbible.asp
http://www.rarlab.com/download.htm
http://www.revolution.cx/Pocket-PC-Dictionary.htm
http://tillanosoft.com/ce/pnotepad.html (free notepad)
http://www.spicypixel.com/xwiki/bin/view/MorphGear/WebHome (game emulators)
http://www.resco.net/pocketpc/audiorecorder/default.asp
http://www.resco.net/pocketpc/explorer/default.asp (incredible file explorer and a pretty nice launcher bar. This is a must have for the power user).
http://www.google.com/gmm/index.html

UPDATE 7/31/07:
- Check out how video looks like streamed over the internet using Orb.

UPDATE 4/7/08:
Just upgraded the phone to windows mobile 6
http://www.htc.com/us/FAQ_Detail.aspx?p_id=65&act=sd

- Worked fine under vista. Just sync and backup everything first. Took all of about 15 min. It was really easy to do.
- After syncing back the data and reinstalling all the applications the only thing that had to be re-setup was speed dialing assignment.
- There is an unofficial tcpmp v0.81 out that works great.
I had to install the ati video patch. Also, make sure you pick ATI IMAGEON (NOT the decode one) and everything will play back perfectly.
- Tried the new google maps. Freaky how it's able to plot your current position pretty accurately without GPS.

Definitely worth doing the upgrade especially since it's free! It's almost like getting a new phone!

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